Free VPNs – Risk your privacy
VPNs continue to grow in popularity, as more people become concerned about internet privacy. There are dozens of free VPNs out there that promise to protect your privacy by keeping you anonymous on the internet and hiding your browsing history. As the VPN market grows to meet this demand, there are now 1,000s of free VPNs promising to keep you safe and secure online, at no extra cost. VPN has been known as the solution to various privacy problems on the internet today.
Free VPN providers need to cover costs and turn a profit. The internet is a hostile place for the privacy-minded. Internet providers can sell your browsing history, governments can spy on you and tech titans collect huge amounts of data to track you across the web. Instead, they generate revenue from their customers using hidden tools and tricks. Many have turned to VPNs, or virtual private networks, thinking that they can protect you from snoopers and spies. These tactics are not only dangerous and dishonest but completely betray the principles of VPNs. A major reason you use a VPN is to protect your privacy while browsing the internet. Thus, its startlingly ironic that the same study found 72% of free VPNs embed third-party trackers in their software. Instead of providing you privacy, the VPNs are doing the exact opposite, by collecting your information and selling it to the highest bidder.
But where VPNs try to solve a problem, they can also expose you to far greater privacy risks. TechCrunch’s Romain Dillet has an explainer on what a VPN is. As you’re about to see, using a free VPN could actually make you less safe online, cost you more than you know, and ruin your entire internet experience. In short, VPNs were first designed for employees to virtually connect to their office network from home or while on a business trip. However, instead of providing the highest standard possible and charging a small fee, they use you to make money indirectly. These days, VPNs are more widely used for hiding your online internet traffic and tricking streaming services into thinking you’re another country when you’re not. Their methods are often annoying, dishonest, semi-hidden from users, and, sometimes, dangerous. That same technique also helps activists and dissidents bypass censorship systems in their own countries.
One of the primary purposes of a VPN is to protect you from hackers. VPNs work by funneling all of your internet traffic through an encrypted pipe to the VPN server, making it more difficult for anyone on the internet to see which sites you are visiting or which apps you are using. So it’s alarming that there are some VPNs that actually contain malware – one of the biggest online security risks.
But VPNs don’t inherently protect your privacy or give you anonymity. VPNs simply divert all of your internet traffic from going to your internet provider’s systems into the VPN provider’s systems instead. Unfortunately, that has turned out to be the case. A study of 283 VPNs revealed that many free providers contain malware – including Betternet, SuperVPN, and CrossVPN. It is not that a free VPN is no good. There is some good, it’s just not all good, and maybe not as great as a paid service; and potentially more bad than a typically paid service.